Panic - A sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.
In Army boot camp we were out in the field asleep and were woken in the middle of the night and told very little of what we were doing. We were led to a small field with lots of razor wire and told to go through the course. We lined up to go under the razor wire and the ground was muddy and near freezing. Then it started, shots from M-60’s and 50 caliber machine guns and overhead we could see the tracer rounds burn through the air. To the left and right of us, the drill sergeants were tossing live grenades into sandpits surrounded by sandbags and tracking flares floated over the course. There was random shouting from every direction. It was quite surreal and disorienting.
In boot camp, things are made as safe as possible and someone would have to screw up very badly to get hurt but we were heading into live-fire and it was hard to think of anything else. A few of us panicked and ran away. If it were the real thing they would not have survived.
It wasn’t the only time we were tested like that. Another time I will not ever forget is when they completely unexpectedly attacked us with tear gas grenades a week or two later. This was the first and last time panic ever got the better of me, well it got the better of everyone that day, not that it makes me feel better about it. I will never forget a certain drill sergeant that looked like an angry bulldog on a good day was yelling at everyone to get their masks on, right in the middle of all that painful gas. This was 1986 and they had recently stopped the practice of hitting recruits, at least directly but they could edge up very close to the line. I remember getting knocked to the ground and what he said to me can’t be written in such a family-friendly site as this but it cleared my head enough so I could put on my mask and clear it. I don’t know how long it took between the start of the attack and when I got the mask on, less than 30 seconds I think, but if it were a real attack, I would be dead without a doubt.
It is a lesson I never forgot and it has helped me to never lose my reasoning ability no matter what crazy thing I was doing in the Army or Coast Guard.
I get it, I am mentally ill and paranoid. When I go to the store it feels like I am getting coated in it and for some reason I get really itchy. I have had a massive headache the past two days and that is ratcheting up the paranoia. It is not always easy, even with a well mind. I go back to my training and remember that no good comes from panic, but it is still there. I think it is why I panic over little things, it gets it out.
Don’t be greedy
We can see the results of the panic today and most of it is only mildly harmful, so far. Hoarding toilet paper, face masks, and soap might just seem like a dumb but harmless thing but it could have serious consequences down the road. Think about the elderly lady down the road that can’t get to the store often but is getting low on food and over the counter medicine. What is she going to do because people lost their minds and let irrationality take over? She is now in trouble.
About half of Americans don’t even have $500 for emergencies, what is all this pointless spending doing to their finances? Even if you have the money to buy a dozen packages of TP, what is the point?
I am trying to buy food and supplies for a local homeless family shelter and it is really hard to get things that they need. There is no rational reason for this to be happening.
It is a good idea to have about a month’s worth of food and supplies at all times but especially now. Hoarding is stupid greed and it will kill people, possibly you and your family. Think about what will happen if you have a year’s worth of supplies and people continue to panic and lots of people can’t buy anything. You could become a target. Panic does nothing good. Take a breath, assess the situation rationally, take stock of what is in your house and make a list of what you need for the next 4 weeks.
I went shopping the other day and was horrified by what I saw. Things like ramen noodles, canned soup and sugar-laden boxed cereals were being sold out. I saw carts with 5 or 6 cases of ramen noodles and other terrible processed “food”. Those are devoid of nutrients and really can’t be called food. I grew up fairly poor and in a large family but we ate healthy and as an adult I had quite a few years with little to spend on food and still managed to eat healthy. I think I will write a list of ways to stay fed and not spend a ton of money without having to eat fake food. That would probably be more useful than this article.
What are the chances that running water or electricity/gas will shut down in the next three to six months? Why are you buying 100’s of gallons of bottled water and more batteries than you will use in a lifetime? It is always good to have a reasonable stockpile but not so much that no one else can even buy a month’s worth of it. Get some large containers for water and a filter and store your own water. There are lots of ways to make sure you are covered without causing havoc.
Hopefully, more stores will start enforcing limits on certain items soon.
Don’t be racist
Despite certain ‘news’ outlets and politicians making this a racial issue, this is not a Chinese virus. It is simply a virus and they don’t care who you are.
It is disgusting reading reports of attacks of various types against people of Chinese origin. Chinese people are not carriers and the owner of that Chinese restaurant down the road is not infected, will likely never be and does not want it to spread. The performers of Shen Yun are not here to spread anything but entertainment.
I can’t believe people are so ignorant that it needs to be said. Knock it off.
Do not overwhelm medical and emergency services
Emergency rooms are for emergencies. This is always true but that distinction will become more important as this progresses. If you don’t have a bona fide emergency wait to see your primary doctor or go to one of those urgent care centers that are popping up faster than Starbucks.
If this gets worse and people are misusing emergency and other hospital services they will get overwhelmed and people will die.
Think of it this way, if this gets worse and you go in for a minor burn or something, you will sit in the waiting room for hours.
If you don’t need to see a doctor, don’t. If you do, please go and of course do not miss any appointments. Medical care doesn’t yet need to be rationed but overwhelming it will cause unbelievable harm to everyone.
The same goes for overwhelming the 911 system, police, and fire.
Stay calm, be rational and help others
With the self-interested and gleefully ignorant President that we are currently saddled with, it is more important than ever for local governments and its people to step up and make sure this does not get out of hand. Look how bad the aftermath of hurricane Katrina got with a well-meaning but ignorant and incompetent President. This has the potential to be a nationwide Katrina-level problem.
If you can help, do so. I forget where I heard it but it is true: If you have ever had a desire to get into politics at any level, now is your chance to do so and do a lot of good. Just don’t help to the point it will hurt you or others. Most people have no such desires but see what community organizations need and if you can help do what you can.
Businesses are putting plans into action to stay up and running with minimizing risk, neighborhoods need to do the same. Just remember, this isn’t The Stand, Mad Max or a zombie apocalypse. We don’t need bands of armed and woefully untrained hooligans roaming the streets or countryside.
Make a plan with your neighbors about what to do if someone gets ill. Make sure any elderly people living alone have what they need and get can help if it is needed. Make sure everyone has food and supplies and also make sure there is a way to limit spreading it, especially in the same household. If a mom gets it, see if you can make room for the husband and kids so he can continue to work.
Adopting a greedy attitude will not only hurt others it will damage the economy. If you are so myopic that the idea of making everyone as safe as possible doesn’t appeal to you, think about your property values when a few homes nearby get foreclosed on because this illness caused your neighbors to not be able to work. I need to go take a shower after making such a soulless argument.
If someone has a cold or flu, that is not COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. If someone sneezes because of they have a cold or allergies, they are not dangerous and don’t panic if it happens nearby in public. Everyone needs to limit contact and stay clean and most of all do not panic.
Try to live your life
Caution is extremely important but there is no reason to become a shut-in with a living room full of masks and toilet paper. Continue to live your life as is practical and safe. Exercise (just outdoors or at home), go out on picnics, go fishing, hiking or camping but cautiously and minimize contact with others, of course. Depending on where you live, there are places to go away from everyone during normal times. Just make sure you follow the guidelines regarding social distancing.
Consider lowering your expenses where you can without impacting your life too much, just in case. I am reconsidering what to do this spring in regards to home and yard improvements, for example.
Hopefully, this will not progress to something horrible, as bad as it is already. Cases in China seem to be leveling off which is hopefully a good sign that everywhere will follow the same track, but it seems that no one knows yet since this virus is new. Listen to rational news and get your information directly from local, state and federal health agencies and modify your behavior based on solid information. Do a search for “< insert your state/county/city > COVID-19” for localized information and any restrictions that are put in place.
Guidelines could change from day to day so take that in consideration, always.
If you think you might have gotten it, call your doctor first and follow their directions and make sure those that live with you are protected.
Panic has never helped anyone, not ever. It does make things worse 100% of the time.
Above all, stay calm, and don’t forget to laugh now and again.